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Practicing Rest

This morning as I was praying, I was made acutely aware that I was approaching the end of summer very quickly. Even more so, I was approaching a host of commitments I had on my plate that I really needed to get prepared for. My mind swirled for a minute, where do I begin? How do I prepare? The Lord took me a very different preparation route than I expected. He told me I needed to practice resting. What?!?! resting?!? How is this going to help me stay ahead or the at least on schedule with everything I will have to do? This is His beautiful explanation to me:

Our walk with the Lord is a marathon race. Paul describes it as a race in 1 Corithians 9, and we are to go into strict training and we are to beat our bodies and make them our slave. Well, let’s say before a big race I trained only in the weight room. I built up my muscles and and made them strong and powerful. I focused solely on the strengthening of my skeletal muscles that I never actually strengthened my heart and lungs for a longer race. The heart and lungs, a vital part in endurance, will not be strong enough to carry the necessary oxygen to these powerful muscles to keep them from fatiguing and cramping. Come big race day, I might have prepared but I did not prepare correctly. I will begin the race fast and strong but I will soon tire quickly and become fatigued and overwhelmed. I will not be able to finish the race. However, if I train appropriately strengthening the heart and the lungs I will learn to pace myself and take the necessary “breathers” that I will need to persevere.

Learning to rest, which seems ridiculous that you would need to learn to rest, is the training of the heart and lungs for the marathon season that lays ahead. So what types of rest are there? The Lord pointed out that I need three types of rest:

1. Spiritual Rest: this is resting in the Lord. Finding solitude with Him every day. Having Him renew my mind and resting/trusting in His assurances. This rest prioritizes everything else in life. It is where anxiety and stress is laid down and peace is picked up. This is where I can say I don’t have to do it all, and I let go of worldly expectations.

2. Mental Rest: This rest is a pouring into of the mind. So often life demands so much of us mentally. Always thinking of what we have to do. We also pour out into others lives praying and caring for others. Mental rest is a time to pour back into our minds. The best source to pour in is scripture because it feeds all parts of our body. Paul also speaks about whatever if lovely, honorable or praise worthy think about such things. I found when I listen to praise music or read a Christ centered book for my encouragement or teaching this pours into my mind and gives me rest from pouring out.

3. Physical rest: This rest seems to be a no brainer but too often it doesn’t happen. In America, if you aren’t moving and going you are losing or falling behind. We even have a city that is considered the city the never sleeps. Physical rest is stepping away from our normal every day work to pour into our bodies. Sometimes that is literally a nap. Other times it is exercise or a fun activity that honors the Lord.

When we pour what is good into our bodies and minds, it comes back out. For a long time, the enemy deceived me about rest. I was convinced that I must keep going. I must keep serving. Taking time away was selfish but where that landed me was an extremely overwhelmed and stressed out mom who had a short fuse. The enemy hates when Gods people rest, because rest restores the Lords army to keep waging war. If we never rest, we will become battle fatigued and overwhelmed. So how are you resting? Is rest apart of your life? Your family’s life? We all have our marathon seasons to run will you have trained in all ways including rest so that you can endure when the pressure is on?

Scripture

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27

“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:15-16‬

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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The Marriage Garden

Marriages are like gardens. It requires the intentional tending to by three gardeners God, Husband and wife. Every good fruit that comes from that garden is from the Lord but it will have been worked through by the hands of the husband and wife. The couple must be diligent and intentional in the care of the garden. Pulling weeds when first spotted and planting seeds that bring forth fruit. The every day work of watering and pruning must happen to keep a healthy garden and a healthy marriage. Although, the work at times will be difficult and even mundane the fruit that it will produce will be ever lasting.

Likewise, if the couple does not put forth intentional daily work the once fruitful plants begin to dry out and wilt. When weeds are allowed to grow, it chokes out the flowering plants. When we neglect our duties as gardeners, we not only stifle growth of our garden but eventually it will allow the weeds of sin, selfishness, pride and bitterness to totally choke out every good thing.

How intentional is your gardening? Do you lovingly care for the garden allowing the Lord to work through you pulling weeds and planting seeds? Or do you sit back and neglect your garden by allowing your partner to do all the toilsome work or refusing to do any work because of bitterness?

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Being Drug behind Our Calling

Since I was a teenager, I knew I was called to be a mother and raise godly children. There was no doubt in my mind that was the task God had given me in life. Still to this day, I believe with 110% certainty.

As I stepped into motherhood, I soon found out this task was extremely difficult. The more children I had the more difficult it got. I was simply surviving life. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by my blessings but I just kept pushing forward because well…it was my calling. I was made for this wasn’t I?

I would pray for rest but I refused to slow down because there was always something to do. I would pray for help but I wouldn’t release control of expectations. I was frustrated and I was angry and I was overwhelmed. I felt defeated all too often because I would constantly fail to meet my expectations and I felt lonely because I felt like my husband didn’t meet my expectations. It was a miserable state to be in.

But God in his kindness and gentleness sent road blocks along my path to catch my attention. He taught me to focus on Him not my calling. He taught me to work from His strength and not my own. He taught me the crucial need for rest and letting go of my expectations for my life, for myself, and for my marriage. I began to adopt a much slower pace of life. My calendar may have many things on it but the intensity of each task has slowed. I can trust that everything does not have to be completed right away. That it will all be handled in his timing. It has opened me up to enjoy life to enjoy my family and to live in the present with an eternal mindset rather than just living on the edge of survival.

Walking with Christ in your calling VS Being Drug Behind your Calling‬ ‭

Mindset While Being Drug Behind Your Calling

  • It has to be done ASAP
  • I’m tired but I have no time to rest there is too much to do
  • It needs to be done NOW
  • I’m alone if no one is with me
  • I’m overwhelmed with stuff to do
  • I’m so busy
  • I’m just surviving
  • Everything else can wait but I have to complete this task
  • If only people would understand
  • I can’t do this anymore
  • The calling comes before the quiet time with the Lord
  • I must push forward no mater what
  • I’m afraid of failing

Your Mindset While Walking With Christ in your calling

  • “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭
  • “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭
  • ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭
  • “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm‬ ‭23:1-4‬ ‭
  • “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭
  • “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm‬ ‭27:14‬
  • “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” PROVERBS‬ ‭28:26‬ ‭
  • “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans‬ ‭8:31‬ ‭
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6

The greatest feeling is when we have surrendered up control and begin to rest in the Lord presence. We begin to experience peace, contentment, strength, perseverance and joy. We go from simply surviving to keep up to stepping intentionally on the path the Lord has for us. This change does not come easily and it is not a one and done thing. It is a every day surrender sometimes a minute by minute surrender but we can be assured if we are walking with the Lord he cares for us the entire way. He does not push forward while dragging us behind him.

Daily Reminders

Internal Transformation Brings True Change

Some thoughts during my morning quiet time:

If my circumstances were different my marriage would be better. If my husband/wife only ___________ (full in the blank) then my marriage would be better. You could do the same for children, parenting, family, careers etc.. We focus on external change, thinking if we could simply change circumstances or people we would somehow come to a place of joy, peace, and contentment. However, if we really look at what we desire joy, peace, and contentment these things are only found in God alone. No external change in our life will supply those needs. Only internal change by the Spirit truly produces those fruits.

So instead of saying “if only my _________ would change.”, we said “Lord, change me, my heart, my mind to produce joy in my marriage, peace in my life and contentment in all circumstances.” How then would our perceptions of those around us look? How would we feel about our marriages, our children and parenting?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lessons

The Predator and The Prey

Have you ever watched on National Geographic, a Lion pride stalk and kill its prey? You sit there watching the poor prey animal and thinking run little zebra run like the wind, but the lions stalks silently. The prey may hear the soft rustle of the grass as the lions inch forward giving them a head start but many still remain with their head down until the lions pounce and it’s all over.

This gruesome scene of the unsuspecting prey and cunning predator is all to familiar to the spiritual attacks we receive from Satan and his gang of followers. The question that really has me pondering on is “am I the unsuspecting prey?” Do I live life with my head down oblivious to the stalking predator watching me and waiting to pounce? Do I just go about my work my daily life not thinking too much of possible spiritual dangers? Am I the zebra so involved in munching my grass that I have wandered away from the protection of my heard? Have I got so caught up doing good things that my focus has shifted from God to my work? These moments of slight deviation from the Lord puts us ripe for the unsuspecting pounce.

But what if we worked with our eyes open? What if we remembered that when we follow God we will be attacked so we remained alert. We wouldn’t escape an attack but we would be able to defend from it. When we keep our eyes on the Lord and our mind and heart set in truth we will be able to hear the rustle in the grass. We will be able to sense the tension in the air knowing we are being stalked but always on alert and ready to defend with the word of God. We would be able to identify paths that would take us into harms or temptations way.

So, as a believer, how are you living life? Are you staying alert? Ready for the attack? Or are you living oblivious and only realizing you are under severe attack after the enemy has began to pull you down?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-9